The Caligula Effect (PS Vita) Review

By Eric Ace 05.05.2017 1

Review for The Caligula Effect on PS Vita

As can be seen in many aspects of The Caligula Effect, including the story and character design, a number of the Persona crew has developed this PS Vita JRPG. The darker plot elements that the latter series is known for come through here in the form of a singing AI program that wants to make everyone happy, deciding the best way is to drag them all into a virtual world administered by her. Things fray around the edges and the player must escape any way they can.

The Caligula Effect could best be summed up by saying there are a lot of pretty cool ideas and systems, weighed down by insane amounts of grind. Taking the role of a high school male waking up in a world that is partly distorted, players must find a way out of it as they realize they are stuck in a virtual simulation.

Screenshot for The Caligula Effect on PS Vita

The game sets the tone for the story pretty high early on, with a lot of panic and confusion about what is happening, helping to draw the player in. The problem is the beginning part lasts about 15 minutes, after which it is not a joke to say the player will be grinding the same dungeon for the next four hours.

This in part is what makes The Caligula Effect problematic at times, despite cool elements within the game. The battle system, for example, when at its best, is a great tactical challenge, but other times it is simply too repetitive or oddly buggy. The story is great when it is being told, but is often buried by literally hundreds of nonsense conversations required to be read if the player wants good equipment.

Screenshot for The Caligula Effect on PS Vita

Battling is pretty complicated, and here is the easiest way to imagine how it works. Essentially, it plays out as a 'real time-turn based' system. Imagine that the game pauses for the next 10 seconds of action, then the player inputs the next moves for this time period. Say they want a normal hit at time 1, a launch-move at time 3, and perhaps an anti-air attack at time 5. There are four characters, so there is a lot of planning; luckily there is a 'hypothetical' animation playing out, showing what could happen. If everything works right, enemies will be countered, bashed around, and hopefully killed within 1 turn.

During boss fights it can be really cool, as allies have to constantly be rotated around the battlefield to hopefully line up the attacks, or withdraw to recover action points. Occasionally, odd things happen, such as characters getting stuck in a corner, or some enemy does something that wasn't shown. These can be an annoyance for the elaborate combos or otherwise immersive combat. Against easy enemies, the battle system is a bit too complex and slows normal fights down.

Screenshot for The Caligula Effect on PS Vita

The story of being trapped in the world and trying to escape is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, it is often buried by endless 'slice of life' kinds of high school drama. There are over 500 students, of which all of them must be talked with if wanting better equipment. Given enough attention, they eventually give a special item. Great in theory, but every conversation literally is them saying, "So the thing is…" while the screen turns black and a small bar increases. The concept of helping other students to find out their past is interesting, but this system is simply far too large and cumbersome to be fun at all.

The major problem with The Caligula Effect is that the good parts are dragged down by the endless mediocre parts in between. As stated above, after a great opening, the game enters an abysmal 'tutorial' dungeon of sorts that lasts over four hours. The worst part is the song that never stops playing is some J-Pop vocal song that is around one minute long and after the hundredth time of listening to it, the intrigue of the world fades into annoyance of how something like this was overlooked.

Screenshot for The Caligula Effect on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


In the end, The Caligula Effect has some cool ideas and a cool battle system that is often weighed down by other areas of the game lacking. There is simply far too much fluff that gets in the way of enjoying the good parts, keeping it from being truly great. Gamers with a high tolerance for grind will find this a really enjoyable game, but JRPG fans looking for a smoother ride will be put off by how often the pace slows to a near-glacial crawl.






Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Naomi (guest) 27.08.2017#1

Thanks for your review.
The grind is really that bad? Not optional at all? I mean I heard getting the trophies was rough, but is the actual game itself extremely bogged down? 

Worse than Tartarus (Persona 3) or Operation Abyss?

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